Thursday, May 15, 2014

Zoltán Miháczi: "For progress we have to wake up the interest of younger ages"

The Hungarian team was one of the great revelations of the last European Trail Orienteering Championships, which took place in Palmela. From the excellent set of results, the highlight is Zoltán Miháczi's 9th place in TempO. He is the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's guest today, recalling a week of strong emotions.

An easy question to start: Who is Zoltán Miháczi?

Zoltán Miháczi (Z. M.) - I was born in 1967, in Budapest. I grew up there and I live now in the suburbs. I’m an employee in a big multinational company (T-Systems) and I work in the operating area. I’ve been doing Foot orienteering since I was 10 and now I compete both in FootO and TrailO. I am a member of the Hungarian Orienteering Society’s presidency since 2002 and now I’m its vice-president. The Trail-O turned up in Hungary in 2005, four years before the World Championships in Miskolc and I was also there in the early moments. Previously, I took part in one World competition only, in 2008, in Olomouc. In the recent years I attended more Italian, Slovenian and Portuguese Trail-O competitions. Usually I finished these competition ranked close to the medals, in spite of the strong field (Remo, Kreso,...).

You've recently been to Portugal, competing at the ETOC. What were your major goals?

Z. M. - In 2008, in Olomouc, I reached the 28th place but, at that time, I wasn’t satisfied with my performance. Then, I competed only in Hungary for a few years. For the European Championships, I didn't have any specific goals, but to do better than in 2008. With my little international experience and without the knowledge about the opponents I couldn’t expect more from myself.

How did you prepare for the European Championships?

Z. M. - The Hungarian team prepared for the ETOC together with theoretical exercises and field practices. Thanks to that, I think we have provided our most uniform performance as a team. We found next to Budapest a very similar terrain to Vale de Barris. It was an open bushy area and we used it for the PreO competition. But we didn’t have the possibility to prepare for the TempO.

So, it was even more brilliant, your 9th position in the Final. Did you expect this? Where was the secret?

Z. M. - Hungary never had before an athlete qualified for the TempO Final and I wanted to achieve it (now, Fruzsina Bíró succeeded this too). Usually I’m good at exercises, which need fast perception and decision. So I like timed controls. I knew that, for the final, I had to be very concentrated and I needed to avoid panicking. In the qualification I made a lot of mistakes and I was the last one to be qualified, there was a huge stress inside of me. My purpose was competing in the final cool-headed. Despite this, I got over the first control very fast. I realised it and I took back a little bit from my tempo. Though the controls in the final were more difficult, I got the same result as in the qualification (210.5 sec, 6 mistakes – 211 sec, 6 mistakes), while the others' percentage of mistakes was significantly worse.

And what about PreO? Was getting the 21st place in your plans?

Z. M. - Typical for me, to hurry too much in PreO. My purpose was stable competing. On the first day I succeeded well and the fast timed control held out great opportunities. In my opinion, a good TrailO competitor should have the ability to think like the course setter. On the second day I could think this way almost during the whole race, but I missed out for a few seconds, so I lost the 8th place. Not having learnt from my mistake on first day, I changed my decision before the punching, in spite of what I heard on the team leaders' meeting. By and large, I’m satisfied with the 21st place.

The Hungarian team was very well in the European Championships, showing you and Fruzsina very consistent and Miksa doing a great improvement. How is it going the TrailO in your country?

Z. M. - Our team prepared for the Championships together and we also lived this week together, the competition, the analyses and everything else. We are proud of our result. Fruzsi has made good results for years, but Miksa hasn’t got a long past in this sport. He becomes more conscious. He raised the bar high for himself. Unfortunately, we have very few TrailO competitions in Hungary. We have only a few experienced course setters, who know the international trends. To step forward, we need to visit the competitions of neighbouring countries as well as to popularize this sport in our country and to develop the training.

Overall, how do you evaluate the ETOC? Can you point the best and the worst?

Z. M. - For seven or eight years I have regularly travelled to Portugal to compete on the Portugal O'Meeting. Portuguese competitions are usually well organised and the environment is friendly. Now we also face good maps and exciting exercises. We got all support and help from the organizers. Beside the good organization, it’s hard to say bad things. Maybe the processing/showing on web of results was a bit slow. But on the last day it was not a problem.

Is TrailO worldwide in the right way?

Z. M. - The rules of TrailO – basically with the Scandinavian orienteering – are continuously more precise, they become more clear. I find it in a good direction and that TempO gets more and more emphasis. This is much more sellable for media and for youngsters too. For progress we have to wake up the interest of younger ages. We haven’t succeeded in Hungary yet.

Are we going to see you competing in the WTOC, next summer? What are your main goals?

Z. M. - My participation in the WTOC this year is uncertain, but I’d like to get to Zagreb and Jesenik, and I wanted to improve my results. Thank you for the opportunity! And I wanted to say thank you particularly to the Irish and Portuguese competitors for their help in Palmela.

Joaquim Margarido

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